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UPDATE-David Carradine, a life beyond “Kung Fu”

June 5, 2009

Actor David Carradine, who police said on Thursday was found hanged in his Bangkok hotel room, is best known for playing Shaolin martial arts master Caine in the 1970s televisiodavid-carradinen series  “Kung Fu,” but he had shining moments in a number of more artistically challenging projects, such as the 1976 movie  “Bound for Glory” that saw him play folk legend Woody Guthrie and as an expatriate American watching Germany go fascist in the 1977 film  “The Serpent’s Egg”.

Reviewing “Bound for Glory,” film critic Roger Ebert of newspaper the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “David Carradine’s performance as Guthrie finds just the right balance between his pride and innate simplicity.”

Film website IMDB says Carradine was the only actor ever to have appeared in films directed by Martin Scorsese, Ingmar Bergman and Quentin Tarantino, a trio of acclaimed directors with very different perspectives. Carradine played a drunk in Scorsese’s 1973 “Mean Streets,” Bergman directed him in “The Serpent’s Egg” and he was the title character in Tarantino’s 2003 movie “Kill Bill: Vol. 1″ and the 2004 follow-up “Kill Bill: Vol. 2.” 

david-carradine-quentin-tarantino1But after his 1970s rise to fame, Carradine faded from view, appearing in a number of low-budget productions but always staying on the screen. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly magazine in 2004, he described himself as a “renegade” in the movie industry who had suffered from a bad reputation. Tarantino put Carradine in the spotlight again, first with a flattering mention in his 1994 movie “Pulp Fiction,” when Samuel L. Jackson’s character talked about planning to “walk the earth … like Caine in ‘Kung Fu.’” Then came the roles in Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” movies.

By that point, Carradine had starred in more than 100 films. Many of them had gone straight to video. But Carradine said in an interview with British newspaper The Independent that Tarantino told him he had seen nearly all of the actor’s movies. “He was lying, but he’s certainly seen a bunch of them,” Carradine wryly added.

Here’s the update. Carradine on Tuesday will guest star in the television drama “Mental” on U.S. network Fox. Carradine plays a famous professor who was struck by lightning and fell into a catatonic state, in the episode taped a year ago.


Look…people…He was Killed…flat out killed…could be he got into some strange…but no one…NO ONE kills himself in a closet…with 2 ropes on various parts of there body…realy…come on…has anyone even been there??????

Posted by Mark holck | Report as abusive

David Carradine hang himself in a hotel closet; South Korea’s former president commits suicide jumping down from a high rock peak; many Hollywood celebrities die from drug overdoses; famous wrestlers kill their wives and children then commit suicide, and rich and famous of Wall Street commit suicide after losing most of their money and wealth flare in the current economic breakdown.

Then comes the other ordeal of the rich and famous: A conveyor belt of plastic surgeries that leave them more depressed after the last one, and some have died from surgical complications.

Conclusion: Be careful what you wish – all those of you out there striving for fame and wealth. You may get your wish, but you may come to the conclusion that is not worth living it! Modest life in not only happier, but it also lasts much longer!
Nikos Retsos, retired professor

Posted by Nikos Retsos | Report as abusive

I know this will sound odd but has anybody yet mentioned that this could’ve been an accidental death by auto-erotica? People die from this every day and even given the fact that he was 72 does not make me think differently. I mean, he’s going to commit suicide, naked, in the middle of shooting a movie? In Bankok?
After a cinematic resurgence? It makes no sense. I think he just went a little too far and that’s all it takes. Sorry.

Posted by Wal | Report as abusive

I acted with David in Kung Fu. He was a really great guy … he spoke of his beloved American Beatles … The Eagles. He was a true California icon … a real Malibu guy. David’s father John Carradine appeared in so many black and white horror movies. David told me that his father would scare the hell of both he and Keith at night when he would come home in character!


I grew up watching his Kung Fu movies. I liked how he kept out of the attention grabbing spotlight, I always thought it suited his Kung Fu role. RIP

Posted by Tess | Report as abusive

I think he was a superb actor and human being…he’s dead today, no need to speculate, how, or doing auto-erotic, or whatever….he will be remmebered fondly for his work and personality. RIP.

Posted by akash | Report as abusive

It is certainly easier to believe the worst about people, ever notice that?

After speaking to people associated with the Carradine family, I have come to my own conclusion. This was a “HIT” then made to look like suicide to discredit his name and reputation. In the worst possible light!

With a new family member, a new toy (Italian race car)and some contracts in the works, besides his current project, he was again in his stride!
These are not reasons to commit self-annihilation.

At age 70, there are easier ways to go!
It has been suggested to me, that if he were going to take himself out, it would be in his favorite new car going off a cliff, with fireworks shooting out the back and Tarantino himself filming the event!

I for one, feel the world is now less then it was!

My heart and most profound respects go out to his family and friends, at the loss of this wonderfull and vital man!

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

He was a great actor and it’s a terrible shame to see him go regardless of hoe it happened. He will be missed.


Rest in peace Grasshopper.

Posted by bby_70 | Report as abusive




Posted by CHUCK | Report as abusive

To CHUCK (June 6th, 4:58am GMT) – Would you please post your sources for the “facts” you’ve posted. It can be very damaging to a lot of people to put stuff like that out there without a source to back it up. His family and friends are all ready grieving and looking for answers. If you’ve got something solid from somewhere legit, then please put it up. If not, then let’s not do anything to add to the Carradines’ pain at this time.

Thank you, David Carradine, for your contributions to the industry and to humanity. You will forever be missed.

Posted by A. Gray | Report as abusive

I don’t think for a moment he committed suicide. Rest in peace friend.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

I wonder if anyone else is puzzled by the strange deaths of tourists in Thailand and the apparent reluctance of the Thai police to do a thorough investigation. In addition to these deaths, the recent death of tourist Jill St. Onge also seems very odd. It is almost as though the Thai authorities prefer to have the deaths covered for fear of what the truth may do to the Thai tourism industry. I would hope that with some pressure, the Thai authorities would allow open investigations of these mysterious deaths.


Carradine thought he’d go out in the middle of shooting a scene:


His death is shady to say the least!

suicide – one of the top 3 stupidest things I heard today on NBC

The guy had everything to live for.

He had got himself clean and into fitness years ago and was going to shoot a film in tailand in two weeks.

I heard from my buddy who works at MTV. He knows one of his groupies. He was found swinging in the closet of his hotel with his hands tied behind his back and an apple in his mouth.

tai mafia – thier version of a mexican necktie

Common in tailand I guess. They are famous for killing porn actresses this way. They probably know who is responsible but are paid to say suicide. don’t care either. Those responsible will never come to justice. Just counting their cash.

What a waste of life just for the insurance money on the production.

His talent will be missed.

Kill Bill is a classic.

Posted by Looker | Report as abusive

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